Tres Leches cake is a popular dessert in Latin American cuisine. It is a light cake that is soaked in three types of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. The cake is then topped with whipped cream and, sometimes, fresh fruit. The result is a delicious and moist cake that is perfect for any occasion. Tres Leches cake is a crowd-pleaser and is sure to impress your guests. It is easy to make and can be customized by adding different flavors such as coconut.
For this gluten-free coconut tres leches cake, I have chosen to swap out all of the dairy milks for coconut milks, which not only creates a delicious coconut version of the dessert, but also makes it dairy free. Most major supermarkets in the United States carry sweetened condensed and evaporated coconut milk, as well as heavy coconut cream. If you cannot find them in the store, you can order them online. If you cannot find heavy coconut cream, you can use full-fat, canned coconut milk by putting it in the refrigerator and just skimming off the solid thick white part that rises to the top of the can.
Gluten-Free Coconut Tres Leches Cake
This cake can be made using regular milks instead of coconut milks if you prefer not to have coconut, or you cannot find them all in coconut.
- 300 grams 1:1 gluten-free flour blend
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 250 grams granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 112 grams unsalted butter (or plant butter)
- 2 large eggs
- 225 grams coconut milk* (not canned)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 150 grams shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
- 200 grams sweetened condensed coconut milk
- 170 grams evaporated coconut milk
- 112 grams heavy cream** (or heavy coconut cream)
- 350 grams heavy cream** (or heavy coconut cream)
- 65 grams confectioners' sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
Add the butter, and mix until you have a uniform sandy texture and no lumps of butter remain
In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla and almond extract, if using.
With the mixer running, slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, and mix until smooth and totally combined.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and set the batter aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Grease a 10-inch springform pan or a 9x13-inch inch cake pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, rotate and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly touched, and a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for about 30-60 minutes in the pan.
While the cake is cooling, toast the coconut garnish.
In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, add the shredded coconut in an even layer. Toast about 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Remove from pan immediately, and set aside.
Once the cake has cooled, prepare the topping by whisking together the condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream.
Using a large fork or a wooden skewer, poke holes all over the cake (poke down to the bottom of the cake pan). Pour milk mixture slowly and evenly over cake.
Cover, and transfer cake to the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least several hours or overnight.
Once ready to serve, prepare whipped cream.
Combine heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl, and use an electric mixer to whip until it is thick and stiff peaks form.
Spread whipped cream over tres leches cake, and sprinkle with toasted coconut garnish if desired.
*Canned coconut milk (even the light ones) are too high in fat for the cake. It is best to use the coconut milk that comes in the carton (usually 4.5 grams fat per cup) or use almond milk or regular dairy milk.
**If using heavy coconut cream for the whipped topping, make sure to chill well before whipping.